Team China players chant before the Arena of Valor grand finals of the Hangzhou Asian Games, September 26, 2023.
China defeated 2-0 Malaysia in the Arena of Valor finals on Tuesday at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang Province, marking history by winning the first-ever esports gold medal at the Asian Games that can be counted into the tally.
Team China met difficulties at the start of the first match during the best-of-three grand finals, falling into Team Malaysia's trap and lost the first point.
But when Team Malaysia tried the same strategy again, Team China saw through the trap and escaped.
As more than one Malaysian athlete gathered to set up traps, some Chinese athletes were left free farming resources, which soon scaled up and became too powerful for Team Malaysia to manage.
Team China also took cautious steps later in the game to prevent it from flipping around.
In the second game, Team China swapped a player and turned aggressive, taking out Malaysian players everywhere on the map and secured victory.
This gold medal is the 48th for Team China at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Esports medals awarded at the previous Jakarta Asian Games weren't counted into the medal tally because esports was only a demonstrative event then.
Arena of Valor, also known as Honor of Kings in China, is a five-on-five mobile game in which players must cooperate and destroy the enemy base, with very similar rules like Dota and League of Legends.
Team China for this game is composed of current and previous professional players from the domestic commercial league.
There are six more medal events for esports at the Hangzhou Asian Games, including Dream Three Kingdoms 2, Dota 2, FIFA Online 4, PUBG Mobile, League of Legends and Street Fighter V. From Wednesday to next Monday, each day will witness the awarding of one gold medal.
Esports industry in China
Esports is a new industry in China with the total revenue standing at 144.5 billion yuan ($21.5 billion) in 2022, the largest in the world.
The large market helped cultivate Chinese video game developers and publishers, which scaled up fast in the mobile gaming age, with some becoming global industry leaders.
Honor of Kings was the most profitable mobile game in the world in 2022, according to data from market analytics company Sensor Tower.
Four out of the seven video game titles played in the Hangzhou Asian Games are developed or owned by companies headquartered in China.
For decades, video gaming has been a sensitive topic among some Chinese parents, who are afraid of their children becoming addicted to what they call "spiritual drug."
The voice for controlling video games became louder after the World Health Organization listed gaming disorder as a disease in 2019.
The Chinese government released multiple regulations to protect gamers especially the underage ones. Only adults are allowed to debut in professional esports competitions, while children can only play for roughly three hours every week.
(Geng Xiuhui contributed to the story.)